In the final episode of our coverage of the 77th Islamic Vacation Course (IVC) 2019 of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) in Kano, we today narrate the ‘testimonies’ of Kabir Bello and Nefisat Umeka Abugu, Amir and Amira respectively of the MSSN of UNN Nsukka who attended the event and mingled with 5,000+ Muslim youths assembled from 19 Northern States and Abuja. This is their story:
MY NAME IS BELLO KABIR, 23, native of Etsako-West LGA, Auchi, Edo State and outgoing Amir (President) of the MSSN UNN. I am a graduating student of 2019 Electrical Engineering. I am from a Muslim family; my father a retired electrical technician and my mother a former petty trader. I live with my sister and her husband in Nsukka. There are very few Muslim students in UNN, most of whom are PG students from the North.
I have never been to the North before, so being invited to attend IVC in Kano was a lifetime experience. It also afforded me my first ever flight experience. My experience was so overwhelming. The Muslim people of the North are so friendly and always willing to help you out of things you find difficult. The hassle is less, compared to the South. Northerners wear Made-in-Nigeria clothes. A good number of them speak Arabic, and most of them know the Qur’an and Sunnah. Islam is more like a culture. My stay in the North has erased the negative perception that Northerners are violent and that the North is not safe.
Kano is a very beautiful city; it is so big and yet so developed in infrastructure. There is no abandoned project; there are good and clean motorable roads and various flyover bridges to ease traffic congestion; there are mosques everywhere; there are malls of different kinds. The traders display their goods in a very inviting manner. Everybody is welcome to do business.
The highlight of my IVC visit was seeing His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto, the Emir of Kano and Senator Ibrahim Shekarau (who facilitated our trip). The most overwhelming experience was to take a picture with these personalities. The Sultan is our spiritual leader who has done a great job in promoting Islam and maintaining peaceful coexistence. He also donated handsomely towards the construction of our UNN Mosque. I was really honoured at the grand ceremony of the IVC when I was called out to greet the Sultan and Emir of Kano; it is a moment I will forever cherish in life. I also had an interview session and I met with the National Amir of MSSN.
The IVC camp was fun and conducive and I made lots of friends. After discovering I was from the South East, everyone was happy with me. They all wanted to talk to me, ask a few questions about Islam in the South, and take pictures. I met lots of students from different schools in the North with different cultures, but all bound together by Islam.
I can conveniently say that the Northerners live a special kind of life that is worth emulating. To buttress this point, on my way to Enugu from Owerri, one of the Igbo women on the bus said: “No sensible person who has lived in the North will ever relocate to the South East willingly.”
MY NAME IS ABUGU NEFISA UMEKA, a 400 level Economics student of UNN. I am from Amufie Enugu-Ezike, Igbo-Eze North LGA, Enugu State. I was born into a Muslim family. My grandfather (late Mallam Garba Okeme Abugu) embraced Islam as a young man, being the first indigene of my community to do so.
Growing up in an environment where Muslims are less than 5% is quiet challenging. Alhamdulillah, despite finding ourselves in the midst of people from other faiths, we still practice our religion peacefully. My community has one mosque where we perform our Jumaat and Eid prayers, and one Islamic school were the young ones receive Islamic and western education. As a student of UNN, I am opportune to be the Ameera of the Muslim students which has given me the opportunity to see the inner beauty of Islam and to reshape my life positively.
Having spent all my life in the East, I have been praying to visit the North. This was my first time of travelling by air and the experience was memorable as I can’t forget how terrified I was when the plane took off. On arrival in Kano, we had a tour of the Emir’s Palace, Gidan Makama Museum, Kano Grand Mosque, Great Kano City Wall, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano Government House, among others. I was indeed impressed; may Allah bless Kano leaders (past and present).
At the camp, I was welcomed in a special way as an Igbo Muslim, and that kept ringing in some brothers’ ears as many of them couldn’t believe there is a single person in Igboland that is a practising Muslim, let alone female. Indeed, I felt like a celebrity. I was introduced and asked to say some greetings to my fellow Muslim sisters, which I did with much enthusiasm. It was a golden opportunity for me. I was so overwhelmed by their beautiful dresses as they all appeared in beautiful hijabs and niqabs, compared to how sisters in my environment dress. I reminded them to frequently thank Allah for being Muslim and growing up in an environment where Muslims are the majority.
Language was a challenge as Hausa was the major language on camp, but through the help of my friends I started adapting as they helped in interpreting the language to me. Soon I was able to understand some words such as “Seenu” (greetings), “don Allah” (for the sake of Allah), “Zokachi Abunchi” (come and eat),” Zomutafi makaranta” (come let us go to school), and others.
Leaving the camp was like separating a child from its mother as I looked back and saw my friends wishing me farewell and tears started rolling down my cheeks. I sincerely miss them, especially Sister Amina Idrees, my host. I pray to Allah to grant me another opportunity to visit the North again and to unite us.
Being with the Sultan of Sokoto and the Emir of Kano and Senator Ibrahim Shekarau was so overwhelming for small me! Alhamdulillah!